Monday, May 04, 2009

Speaking the right language to the wrong people..

Colin McEnroe is an award winning journalist from the Hartford Courant with a degree from Yale University (shows in the quality of his writing). He teaches, hosts radio talks, and does "spoken word parts with several orchestras" (I want to see this!). But I think the reason I read him is his sense of humour (are you of Irish ancestry, Mr McEnroe?). Here is him preparing for a trip overseas:

"So I'm trying to learn a little Japanese in preparation for my trip, which is why I can occasionally be seen, headphones on, alone with my dog in the woods of the Reservoir asking no one in particular how to get to various Tokyo train stations.

And it's all very well and good to practice these things alone, but once in a while you want to know whether you are even coming close to intelligibility. So I biked to a very nearby Japanese restaurant the other night, plopped down at the sushi bar, had a little to eat and then thanked the two chefs in Japanese. So far so good. They acknowledged my thanks. I got a little bolder. I decided to say "see you later" in Japanese. They appeared nonplussed. "How did I do?" I asked them. They didn't really respond.


Waiter who has been watching whole thing looks at me and says: "They're Chinese.""

Ooops. Maybe some classes in cultural intelligence would be more useful than roaming through Reservoir, Colin? Does your dog look the same as all the other dogs in the neighbourhood? How would you feel if someone in Burma started chatting you up in Gaelic? After all, you do look like, what's-his-name, Billy Connolly.

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